Abbeyfield Motueka - Companionship with Independence

The Guardian 
WEDNESDAY 30 JULY 2014 9
By Jane Wells
Nancy Milne lived in her own home on the hill until a year ago. She sold
it and was going to find a flat and stay in Nelson but then she heard about
Abbeyfield, visited, stayed a week and really liked it.
She loves it now. Other older folk, men and women reside there too
Abbeyfield isn’t an old people’s home. It’s more like a boarding house
with everyone having their own living/bedroom with ensuite, but dining
together. Many of the residents are still well and truly involved in the community
outside.
Takaka, Stoke and Tahunanui have an Abbeyfield too. Stoke was New
Zealand’s first. Altogether there are 900 in 14 different countries. They’re
all run by a group of volunteers who employ a housekeeper/cook. Residents
with just superannuation can afford to reside there.
It was begun in England in 1956 by Richard Carr-Gomm who was alarmed
by the number of older lonely people in his community. Abbeyfields are
designed for older people to live together as a family.
Sue Naylor is Motueka’s housekeeper. She has a flat upstairs above
the residents’ rooms and she lives there during the week with a weekend
housekeeper relieving her.
Her role is to cook two meals a day for everyone. And by all accounts
she does a wonderful job. Mid day she’d dished up lemon chicken, savoury
rice, mashed pumpkin and silver beet (from Abbeyfield’s garden).
This was followed by cheese cake, stewed pears and ice-cream. Tea that
night was to be a light meal – probably quiche.
If they wish residents help set and clear the tables and Sue and the
dishwasher do the rest. She also attends to the cleaning of the communal
areas.
Abbeyfield says its point of difference is that its staff and volunteers commit
time to the residents. They “listen, share, encourage and serve.”
“We have regular meetings with residents and we help newcomers to
settle in. And we always welcome new volunteers.
“It is very personally rewarding. And as well we have to be really fiscally
responsible, and vigilant with health and safety matters,” a committee
member confided.
It’s Sue’s notice boards that keep everyone informed.
This week there’s a play, photographs to view and ‘Upright and Able’ to
attend.
The RSA is right next door and a keen group often goes to the monthly
quiz there. And once a month its RSA fish and chips for lunch in paper!
They celebrate all sorts of occasions too including St Patrick’s Day, Mid
Winter, and residents’ birthdays.
They regularly go further afield in the NBS van. “We visited WOW, wandered
the Richmond Mall, and took in the new K Mart and we lunched out”
said Sue “The Abbeyfield hoons on the loose again!”
“It’s really interesting here,” said Nancy. “We’re all from such different
backgrounds.”
Don’s an accomplished artist. Keith helps with Meals on Wheels and he
does the crossword every day.
He also in the Croquet Club and he goes to Probus regularly. He was a
ship’s captain in a past life. Cardia’s in the midst of publishing her own
book.
John was in the British Army – 12 years in the Cold Stream Guards. He’s
been at Abbeyfield for 11 years – longer than anyone else. “Its first class”
he said “The meals are lovely and so are the rooms.”
Others like Nancy are hardly ever home. She attends political meetings,
goes on road trips with friends, cavorts about in her car visiting, loves
attending mind stretching talks and she’s an avid Operatunity fan.
There’s always a warm welcome when she returns.